Universities set to flunk carbon targets

21st April 2015

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Sustainability


Benjamin Gouldman

The higher education sector is on course to achieve only half its 2020 carbon emissions reduction target, according to an analysis of official data.

Universities and colleges have a sector-wide target, set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 43% by 2020, compared with a 2005 baseline.

Institutions were allowed to set their own targets based on the reductions they believed they could make.

Sustainability consultancy Brite Green analysed data from HEFCE and the Higher Education Statistics Authority and found that by 2013, universities and colleges had achieved a reduction of only 8.5%. Based on performance so far, the consultancy predicts that the sector will only achieve 51% of its 2020 target.

In its report, the consultancy highlights the significant variation in performance between universities. Of the 126 universities analysed, only 44 are on track to meet or exceed their 2020 reduction targets, while 82 are projected to miss them.

The top performer is Lancaster University, which has reduced its emissions by 43%. It is followed by Harper Adams University College and the University of Reading, Brite Green found.

Darren Chadwick, managing partner at Brite Green said: “This year marks the half-way point for higher education institutions in England to meet their 2020 emissions reduction targets they set out in their carbon management plans. Our findings show that whilst some universities and college have delivered excellent reductions, many are well behind their targets.”

Universities should review and update their carbon management plans to get back on track, he added.


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